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									        Today in History….

• U.S. forces defeat Japan at the Battle of Iwo
  Jima. March 17th, 1945
The Legislative Branch
    I. What is Congress?
• Congress: The law making body
 of the government.
 – “The Great Compromise: A
   bicameral legislature
   • Senate: based on equal
     – Every state has TWO senators!
   • House: based on population
     – Nebraska has THREE representatives!
          II. The Senate
• Qualifications:
  – 30 years old +
  – US citizen for 9 years +
  – Resident of state representing
• Term Limits:
  – Six year term limit
  – One third of senate is up for re-
    election every TWO years.
          III. The House
• Qualifications:
  – 25 years old +
  – US citizen for 7 years +
  – Resident of state representing
• Term Limits:
  – 2 years
  – Entire house is up for re-election
    every TWO years!
              IV. Determining
•   How does government determine how may
    representatives each state gets?
     – Representation is based on population
     – Census is taken every 10 years.
        • Census determines the population of each state,
          which in turn determines the number of
•   What is gerrymandering?
     – Congressional districts are redrawn after each
     – Gerrymandering is when districts are redrawn to favor
       a political party, politician, or group of people.
     – Example?
      V. Salary and Benefits
• 27th Amendment:
   – If Congress decides to give itself a raise, the
     raise does not go into effect until the next term!
• Perks of the job:
   – Annual Salary: $145,000 (Speaker: $186,000)
   – Allowance for staff members/assistants
   – Free trips home
   – Immunity
   – Franking Privilege
     V. What is Immunity?
• Immunity: legal protection
   – Member of Congress cannot be arrested
     or sued while Congress is in session.
• Why is immunity important?
   – A Congress person’s job is to represent
     his/her constituents in
     government…pretty hard to do in jail!
         V. What is franking?
• Franking Privilege: right to mail
  official letters/packages “free”
  of charge.
    – Not really “free”…our taxes pay for
•   Why is franking important?
     – Allows Congress person’s to communicate with
       constituents on issues.
     – Franking cannot be used for election purposes!
   VI. Powers of Congress
• Powers of Congress can be divided
  into three categories:
  – Delegated Powers: outlined in Article I,
    Section 8
  – Enumerated Powers: expands powers of
    Congress via the “elastic clause” in
    Article I, Section 8
  – Denied Powers: outlined in Article I,
    Section 9
      VII. Delegated Powers
• Article I, Section 8 outlines the
  constitutional powers of Congress:
  –   Make laws!
  –   Regulate & encourage trade
  –   Declare war
  –   Ratify treaties
  –   Coin money
  –   Etc.
  VIII. Enumerated Powers
• Enumerated powers are powers
  that are implied by the
  “necessary and proper” clause
  of the Constitution.
 – Congress has powers that are NOT
   in the Constitution, but necessary
   for them to do their job!
 – Examples:
   • Collect income taxes (16th
            IX. Denied Powers
•   Article I, Section 9 specifically states powers that
    Congress does NOT have.
•   Examples:
     – Cannot grant titles of nobility
     – Cannot pass ex post facto laws
         • cannot punish an individual for a crime that was
           legal before law was passed.
     – Cannot pass bills of attainder
         • Cannot sentence a person to prison without a trial
     – Cannot suspend writ of habeas corpus
         • “Show me the body”: government must show
           probable cause.
     – Cannot favor a state over another
     – Cannot pass laws that violate Bill of Rights
        X. Organization &
• Organization is what makes it possible for
  the legislative branch to get anything
• Most work is done in committees.
   – (Def): specialized group of senators who
     study proposed bills, hold hearings and
     conduct investigations to obtain
     information on bills.
   – Lot’s of different types of committees &
     members of Congress usually belong to
            X. Organization &
    Standing Committees: permanent committees of
  each house of Congress.
   – Senate= 16 ; House = 19
   – Responsible for special area of congressional
   – Research and decide if bill should go before
   – Example: Foreign Relations Committee
• Subcommittees: each standing committee is then
  broken down into smaller groups.
   – Deal with specific issue of bill or committee.
   – Example: Africa, Asia & Pacific, European Affairs
       X. Organization &
• Conference Committees: members of
  both the House and the Senate
  create a committee in order to come
  up with a compromise on a bill.
  – Temporary & only considers one bill.
  – Only created if House and Senate pass
    two different versions of same bill.
  – Example: Minimum Wage Bill (2007)
         X. Organization &
• Constitution only provides for three
  congressional offices:
  – Speaker of the House (Nanci Pelosi)
     • Most powerful position in House.
     • Non member can speak under called upon by
     • Always a member of the majority party and usually
       a long time member of Congress.
  – President of the Senate (Dick Cheney)
     • Cannot take part in Senate debate and may only
       vote in case of a tie.
  – President Pro Tempore (Robert C. Byrd)
     • Leader only in Vice President’s absence.
     • Elected by members of Senate.
     • Longest serving member of the majority party
         X. Organization &
• Political Parties also create leadership
  positions in Congress.
   – Group with most members is the
     MAJORITY Party (currently Democrats)
   – Group with least member is the
     MINORITY Party (currently Republicans)
• This is done during caucuses:
   – Each party will select their floor leaders.
   – Floor Leader: responsible for guiding
     party’s proposed bills through Congress.
      XI. “I’m Just a Bill”
• Legislative Branch is
  responsible for MAKING LAWS.
• Both houses must approve a bill
  before it is sent to the
• How does a bill become a law?
  – There’s a lot that goes in before an
    idea becomes law of the land!
     XI. “I’m Just A Bill”
• Someone has an idea for a bill:
  – Ideas can come from…
    • Members of Congress
    • Citizens (you and me!)
    • Interest Groups (ex: NRA)
    • Congressional Committees
    • President
      XI. “I’m Just A Bill”
• How does an idea become a bill?
  – It has to be introduced by a member of
  – Once an idea is introduced, it is written
    out, dropped in the hopper, and assigned
    a letter (S or H )and a number.
  – Then the official bill is read to members
    of the house in which it originated, and
    printed in the Congressional Record.
  – Finally, it is sent to a committee.
      XI. “I’m Just A Bill”
• What happens in committees?
  – The bill is referred to the appropriate
  – Committee hearings are open to the
    public (C-SPAN!)
  – Committees decide whether or not the
    bill is necessary based on their research
    & investigation.
  – May revise bill
  – Makes recommendation as to why
    Congress should pass the bill.
        XI. “I’m Just A Bill”
• What happens then?
  – Bill is put on Congressional Calendar.
  – Bill is then debated on the floor (read & debated
    three times!).
  – Vote taken (yay or nay).
  – The bill can be amended at any time!
  – After third reading, roll-call vote taken.
  – Then the bill is sent to the other house of
    Congress and goes through the same process.
     XI. “I’m Just A Bill”
• What happens if both houses
  don’t pass the same exact bill?
  – Conference Committee meets and
    attempt to reach a compromise.
    • Set up of equal number or
      Representatives and Senators.
  – The Compromised bill is then sent
    back to both houses and voted on
      XI. From Bill to Law…
• Finally, the final draft of the bill must be approved
  by the president.
   – If president approves it, the bill is official law.
   – If the president denies (vetoes), the bill is dead!
   – If the President waits ten days without doing
       • If Congress is in session: bill automatically
         becomes law.
       • If Congress has adjourned: bill dies (pocket
 XII. The “What-If” Factor…
• If the President vetoes, is that
  – No, Congress can override a veto
    with a 2/3 vote.
  – Very uncommon and unlikely.

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